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India can become largest pay TV market in the world: Chandra

CANNES: During his keynote at Mipcom today, Zee Group CMD Subhash Chandra asserted that India had the potential to become the largest pay television market in the world.

However, Chandra remained steadfast that while newer distribution avenues would eat into the dominant share that cable enjoyed in Indian television households, that was not to imply that platforms like direct-to-home (DTH) would take over.

Chandra made the point during his interaction with Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News Editorial Director, who asked: "Do you see this threat (to television viewing) that today?s youngsters will remain on a gaming, animation, or maybe mobile path?"

Chandra dismissed the notion as being higher on hyperbole than fact. "I don?t see that day. When we started television everybody in the film industry said this is going to kill the industry. It didn?t. It actually enhanced the film experience.

"Today in India, more than 70 films are screened per day and available to 70 million homes but still people watch cinema. Similar things will happen. All these newer avenues (for content to flow) will consume more and more media as they are made avilable at cheaper prices. As the newer applications come, they will all complement each other. Today we are showing gaming on the DTH platform."

Queried over whether going forward, he saw DTH becoming the primary feed into TV homes, Chandra responded: "It will not become the primary feed because regulation will not allow it, which is a good thing. But I do agree that other delivery platforms will take 40-50 per cent of the distribution market over next five-seven years."

On the issue of there being only one dominant or at the most two competing DTH platforms in other television markets, Chandra said: "India is a country of surprises. We will still be able to see two or three DTH platforms operating. Not five or six as is the case now though. So in that sense we will see consolidation."

On regulation, Chandra was quite clear that India needed it if the industry was to be able to grow in an orderly fashion. Said Chandra, "There should be regulation. Actually there is no regulation in India today. Only some guidelines on FDI caps and this kind of thing, nothing else."

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